Concert review: El Ten Eleven, Lynx and the Good Pyramid fight the crowd (or lack thereof) at the Firebird, Monday, April 25
After the epic weekend of tornadoes and storms I went to sit in on the El Ten Eleven concert to get some peace this past Monday night.
The band took the stage at the Firebird located on Olive Street just outside the heart of downtown St. Louis. El Ten Eleven is a two-man band made up of Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty, a duo that specializes in instrumental multitasking. One of the spectacles of the band is Dunn’s conjoined guitar and bass on a double-neck body, which leaves one wondering just what the oddity sounds like.
The Firebird has a pretty simple layout with few extravagant details in its decoration. The flat black appearance of the club’s dance floor and walls is broken by a large mural of a flaming firebird that appears on the wall between the stage and the bar, somewhat out of site of concert goers. The good thing about the Firebird is that the smallness of the venue gives you a “right there” feeling of closeness to the stage. The crowd for the night was pretty homogenous, not having much diversity amongst the typical, post-teen college students. Their numbers were pretty small: about 30. It’s possible that the small crowd was due to the misfortune of this past weekend’s weather events and the ongoing catastrophe of the storms.
The show started at 9:10 p.m. with opening act the Good Pyramid. The St. Louis quartet consists of a guitarist, bass player, drummer and a keyboardist who alternated between the keys and a trumpet. The Good Pyramid played with a mellow techno-rock style that set the perfect mood for the lingering rain that lasted all day. My girlfriend Melissa described their music as, “[It] sounds like a walk in the park. A slow motion walk with leaves flowing everywhere.”
After the Good Pyramid closed out its set the sound check for El Ten Eleven began. As the person who conducted the sound check finished she began a surprise performance on what turned out to be instruments she setup for herself. The second opening (or middle act) was performed by Lynx who is traveling with El Ten Eleven. Lynx played original instrumentals she composed from a MacBook while accompanying the tracks on various instruments. The combination evolved into a great series of five or six songs I will attempt to classify as trip hop meets alternative, or as she stated “banjo-tronica.” As talented as she was Lynx didn’t get the full attention of the crowd until she started beat boxing which struck the audience as out of the norm.
Despite a solid opening the audience was standing stiff in a spectator’s daze due to its lack of engagement and side conversations. Sadly, the revolving fan near the stage had more life than the ignorance-embalmed crowd; that attitude would continue through the better part of the night. There were a lone few who gave those performing the proper respect, but in the small crowd of 30 you can imagine how few that was. The action of the crowd goes to show why many talented music acts choose not to play St. Louis; St. Louisans make obnoxious audience members more often than not. I love my city but some things have to change.
By the time El Ten Eleven took the stage just after 11 p.m. things began to come together in the venue and the audience was more attentive. The optically-seductive light display and smoke screen penetrated every inch of darkness in the club. Behind the stage effects El Ten Eleven came out with plenty of energy that kept the crowd on the edges of its toes; everyone stood as close as possible to the stage. Music wise, the duo had a powerful and progressive experimental style. While they put more emphasis on their musicianship than vocals, I kept anticipating some sort of song or chant to supplement their music.
Ignoring the salty crowd, the show was impressive. Three solid acts on a Monday night at a surprisingly low ticket price. The only criticism I have is the late lengthy opening segments that pushed back the stage time for El Ten Eleven. While having two opening acts meant money well spent for ticket holders, it resulted in people who had already expended their energy for the night on the opening acts, or in many cases socializing. This explains why I find myself writing slightly more about the opening acts than the headlining band. If El Ten Eleven were to return to St. Louis I would surely see them again in a show that’s more centered around the headlining group.